Teeth are by far one of the most fascinating parts of the human body. The funny thing is, unless we are actively thinking about taking care of them, or brushing them, most of us hardly ever think about our teeth. However, just because you don’t think of them, does not mean they are not doing many things at once!

There are actually four different kinds of teeth: incisors, canines, premolars, and molars. Each of these four types of teeth perform different (and specific) functions. For example, incisors typically cut food into pieces, canines usually tear food, and premolars and molars crush food. Teeth are also fascinating in a variety of other ways. For example, did you know that the average American spends almost 40 entire days of their life, brushing their teeth?

When it comes to taking care of our teeth, public enemy number one is soda. Yes, even diet soda. Research has shown that people who drink soda have over 50% more tooth decay, fillings, and tooth loss than those who do not. These statistics should give you pause, to consider if that extra can of diet cola is really worth it, every day. Flossing is another key to keeping your teeth clean, as you will miss cleaning up to 35% of your tooth surfaces, if you skip flossing.


Human teeth have many parts, and are very, very complex. Though they may appear simple from the outside, human teeth are actually incredibly complicated. Take enamel, for instance. It is actually the hardest substance in the human body. Even as we grow, our teeth are constantly changing. For example, primary teeth first come in when we are children, but are later replaced by permanent teeth. These 32 teeth are split evenly between the maxilla and the mandible, with 16 teeth in each.

Enamel is the layer of teeth that is probably most familiar to you, as it is the outermost layer that is brushed, and cleaned. Enamel can be worn away over time, if proper care is not taken. Drinking acidic or sugary beverages is one surefire way to ruin your enamel, and the more often you drink these beverages, the faster your enamel will erode. Bacteria also live in our mouth – and shockingly – they are much more abundant then we’d like to believe.

The average human mouth actually contains over 6 billion bacteria! This very high number helps explain the extremely high rate of cavities in our country, as more than 93% of adults will have at least one cavity, by age 49. Enamel is critical to protecting your teeth, so any breakdown in enamel leads to much bigger issues.

Enamel also contains the highest percentage of minerals, of any substance in the human body, at over 90%. Enamel is usually degraded by consuming sugar, which then bonds to bacteria in your mouth to form lactic acid. This acid is what leads to breakdown of enamel, which can then lead to many worse outcomes as well. This is one of the many reasons why brushing your teeth is so important – it greatly reduces the bacteria and food in your mouth, which in turn lessens the likelihood of lactic acid forming – helping to avoid the breakdown of enamel.


Dentin is one of the other four main components of teeth, along with enamel, cementum, and pulp. Dentin differs from enamel, in that it consists of microscopic channels, called dentinal tubules. These tubules grow outwardly through the dentine, through the pulp and to the enamel border. In even more detail, there are actually three different kinds of dentin: primary, secondary, and tertiary.

Animals also have dentin, and the most noteworthy is the elephant, which have their tusks formed from a thin layer of enamel. When this layer wears away, the dentin is exposed. By contrast, exposed dentin in a human will typically result in sensitive teeth. Dentin is actually makes up the majority of your , and makes up more than 60% of it.

Plaque is one of the most commonly understood terms related to teeth. From toothpaste commercials to mouth wash, plaque is public enemy number one. On a technical level, however, plaque is a biofilm, or essentially bacteria, which grows inside your mouth. As this plaque remains and then begins to forms tartar, it becomes visually noticeable, usually turning a brown or yellow color. It is this visually unappealing color, which usually brings our first attention to taking care of our teeth. Plaque removal is very important in avoiding gingivitis, as well as periodontitis. However, it is most important to remove plaque, to avoid cavities.

Tooth Decay
Tooth decay happens when bacteria literally eat away your teeth. This can lead to a hole in your teeth, or what is more commonly known as a cavity. Since teeth have three layers (enamel, dentin, and pulp), there is a lot of potential for the decay to get worse. You will want to halt the decay before it gets to all three layers, and ideally will want to stop the decay at one layer. This will help to minimize the damage to your teeth. Acids will actually be working away on your enamel, for more than 30 minutes after you eat. This is one of the many reasons why it’s important to brush your teeth soon after eating.

Cavities (Caries)
Cavities are the most well-known issue related to teeth problems, as more than 90% of adults over the age of forty suffer from at least one cavity. What many do not realize, is that cavities are actually an infectious disease, caused by bacteria. This bacteria is streptococcus mutans, and it caused demineralization in the enamel. In some cases, there is even breakdown in the dentin. There are a number of risk factors that make cavities more likely, and some are a little bit surprising for the average person to hear.

Sugar consumption is one of the biggest risk factors, and there is also the related issue of how long the sugar stays on your teeth. This means that it is actually better to brush your teeth immediately after consuming sugar, compared to letting it sit for hours, or even not brushing until the next day. This overlooked fact may seem minor, but it may actually make a huge difference in avoiding cavities. The more often you forget to brush, or just avoid brushing entirely, after drinking sugary beverages – or eating sugary foods – the more at risk you are for developing cavities.

There are, of course, other risk factors when it comes to developing cavities. Not using fluoride toothpaste, the quality of your brushing and cleaning, your amount of saliva, and even the quality of the bacteria in your mouth – can all play a central role in whether or not you develop cavities.

How Can I Avoid Problems With My Teeth?

Taking care of one’s teeth is truly a lifelong journey. It starts by brushing regularly. 2-3 times a day is ideal, and the ADA (American Dental Association) also recommends using a toothpaste with fluoride. Here are some of the toothpastes we recommend.

Brushing is also key because it helps eliminate plaque and food, which creates a sticky white residue on your teeth, and contains large amounts of bacteria. When it comes to choosing a toothbrush, there are many different choices. Some of our patients prefer electric toothbrushes, others do not. There are many different toothbrushes on the market, but this electric toothbrush model is one of our favorites.

Another key step in maintaining optimal dental health, is flossing regularly. It is best to buy floss in bulk, if you are looking to not only save money, but to never be without it, so you can always have fresh and clean teeth. There are a number of great flossing options on the market, and in fact there is very little difference between most varieties. One of our favorites can be found here.

We also recommend daily use of a mouthwash, usually after every brushing. This is – in our opinion – the best mouthwash on the market. Eating a diet low in sugar, and high in nutrients, is also critical in maintaining good dental health. Be sure to also drink plenty of water, and cut out beverages which can cause harm to the enamel of your teeth, like soda (even diet).

In addition to flossing, a great way to maintain oral hygiene is a Water Pik, especially with dental implants. This is our preferred model, and the one which we commonly give to all our patients here at By Design.

By Design Offers Dental Implants

So after all this reading, you might still be wondering – should I get dental implants? Quite simply – yes! The process at our practice is easy, our doctors are extremely knowledgeable and friendly, and you will leave with a whole new smile! Not to mention – improved self esteem, a more youthful appearance, and much greater inner confidence! Scheduling a free consultation with a doctor is fast and easy, too! Simply fill out our contact form, or give us a call at (484) 231-1177.